Application Note: Problem Detection with Breathers

There are four main alerts visible with a Des-Case desiccant breather that typically point either to issues with a reservoir/machine or with breather selection.

Alert #1—Short Duration: Breathers should last at least six months

Things to check if your breather spends quickly:

  • Reservoir water content - If the breather changes quickly from blue to pink when first installed, the breather is likely working to remove water already in the system. It may take two to three breathers to dry the headspace before the breather begins operating normally.
  • Intake holes - Frequently, all intake holes are unnecessarily opened at installation, reducing breather life. Instructions on the breather packaging indicate how many holes are needed for various air flow requirements.
  • Sizing - If breathers continue to spend quickly, the size may not be appropriate for your application. Contact Des-Case, and we’ll be happy to help you find a solution.
Alert #2—Opposite Color Change: Breathers should change from blue to pink from the bottom up

If your breather turns from blue to pink in the opposite direction from its normal operational mode (in other words, if it changes from the top to the bottom or in both directions), your equipment is taking on moisture content from somewhere other than the breather vent.

Things to check if your breather is changing color in the wrong direction:

  • Replacement Cycles - If breathers are not replaced when completely pink, the breather becomes just a particle filter, allowing humidity to enter the system until it is replaced. The new breather then must work to remove water in the headspace.
  • Oil Storage - If oil is stored incorrectly, condensation can occur, resulting in water entering “new” oil, and then the system. The breather must then work to remove water from inside the reservoir.
  • Other Entry Points - This will vary by type of equipment, but it may include fill and drain ports, access ports or hatches, and/or a variety of seals. Water also can be introduced into the system during maintenance procedures. If the breather consistently changes color from the top to the bottom, a more persistent problem may be occurring
Alert #3—Changing Blue to Brown (or dark blue, yellow, or orange): The desiccant should not be touched by the oil in the reservoir

Things to check if your desiccant has been exposed to oil:

  • Oil Misting - This could indicate the oil reservoir is filled with more oil than the recommended maximum. It could also indicate a mismatch of lubricant with the working temperature or efficiency losses, resulting in fumes from high temperature conditions.
Alert #4—Long Duration: Breathers should exhibit some change from bottom to top within a year

Things to check if your breather is not spending at all:

  • Dry Environment - If the environment has been abnormally dry then there may not be enough ambient moisture for the silica to adsorb.
  • Breather Size - The breather may be larger than what is required for the system. Check the recommended system sizing. The breather should be changed at one year, regardless of visible condition, to renew particle filtration.
  • Intake Holes - Check that the proper number of plugs have been removed. Instructions on the breather packaging indicate how many holes are needed for various air flow requirements.



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